Paparoa National Park Management Plan Under Review

11 August 2016

NZRA recently made a submission on the draft Paparoa National Park Management Plan. In this column, Advocacy Manager – Outdoor Sector Sam Newton summarises the background to this submission, and what upcoming changes may signify for recreation in the West Coast region.

The Paparoa National Park lies at the northern end of the West Coast. While it is relatively small compared to other National Parks, it packs a lot of recreational punch.

Trampers, hunters, cavers and rock climbers all value the myriad of opportunities available in the Park. The Department of Conservation recently released a draft revision of the Paparoa National Park management plan, last reviewed in 1992.

Somewhat atypically, the Department is endeavouring to complete the planning process in 12 months from start to finish – a timeframe that is about half as long as what stakeholders have come to expect for National Park management plan revisions. It is widely anticipated that this compressed timeframe is, at least in part, due to the government’s desire to expediently establish a Great Walk track in the vicinity of the Pike River Mine as a memorial to the 29 victims of the disaster there in 2010.

NZRA has consulted with rock climbing, tramping, caving, mountain biking and hunting communities before writing its submission on the draft plan.

The re-opening of the inland pack track is a priority for trampers, as it is really the only multi-day tramping opportunity in the Park and its closure has been a real loss. The issue of bolting on sports climbs is a tough nut to crack for rock climbers and DoC alike, so it is the view of NZRA that some more sophisticated thinking is required to achieve a consensus. Similarly, for cavers.

NZRA is supportive, in principle, of the establishment of the ‘Pike 29’ Great Walk, as it will result in a big increase in recreational opportunities. Of particular interest is the proposal to allow pedal assisted e-bikes (of up to 300 watts) to be used alongside normal mountain bikes and trampers, on the new great walk.

Here in New Zealand, the extent to which mountain bikers and trampers share tracks on Public Conservation Land, is still an open question. The addition of e-bikes adds another layer of consideration. Fundamentally, at NZRA we are supportive of another form of recreation emerging and another recreational opportunity being provided for by DoC, but we need to be careful that one form of recreation does not impinge on another.

I will be in Greymouth next week to speak in support of our submission.

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